minister as his country began to digest last night's tragedy in switzerland. 28 people were killed, most of them belgium children. >> the crash took place in a swiss toddle as a group of schoolchildren were returning home after a ski holiday. >> many survivors are fighting for their lives in swiss hospitals. back home in belgium, their friends and families are in shock. >> an entire nation plunged into morning. television networks provided wall-to-wall coverage as details unfolded and anxious networks rushed to the primary schools -- anxious parents rushed to the schools to learn whether their children had been victims. >> we tried to call the emergency number. but they told us our god child was not aboard the bus. we have no idea what has become of them. >> on monday, some of the students posted messages on an internet blog, describing a
fabulous vacation and lamented it would soon be over. and look at the wreckage is stark evidence of the sheer force of the crash. the accident occurred about 9:00 p.m. tuesday evening in this alpine tunnel. authorities say the bus hit a curve and smashed head-on into a concrete wall. it is still unclear what caused the accident. the tunnel has an excellent safety record, and there was no oncoming traffic on the four- lane highway. no other vehicles were involved. police have opened an investigation. the belgian prime minister has declared a day of national mourning. he has also sent belgian specialists to the scene to aid in identification of both survivors and victims. athlete -- at the catholic school, the day was overshadowed by sorrow.
24 students were on the bus. there is still no word on the fate of eight of them. >> as we heard, the belgian prime minister has called for a day of national mourning. in the towns the children came from, that has already come. >> the bus was carrying children, and our next report takes a closer look at reaction in those communities. >> news of the deadly crash has shocked all of belgium. television stations ran special broadcasts on the accident. distraught relatives went to the victims schools to find out whether their children were among the living. >> we tried calling the emergency services. they said our guide child was not on the bus, but -- >> but we do not know what happened to them. >> the children's parents were taken to a military air base to be flown to switzerland.
the belgian prime minister came to meet them at the airport. belgians are asking how the accident could have occurred. initial reports say the bus was 10 years old but in good condition. >> i took -- it took place an hour-and-a-half after departure. it seems that compliance with the regulations was in order. and the dutch communities were also in shock. nine of the victims from the border town were from the netherlands. >> we will go back to that story momentarily, but first, a look at other headlines from this hour. a former militia leader from congo has been convicted by the international criminal court of using child soldiers to fight for his rebel army. >> it is the first conviction by the icc since it was set up 10 years ago, and today's judgment was unanimous. >> for the three judges, there
was no doubt that the rebel leader recruited and deployed thousands of child soldiers in 2002 and 2003 during the second congo war. the troops kidnapped the children from their homes and schools. using violence and drugs, they forced them to kill. many of the children also endured sexual abuse. >> the accounts of several witnesses along with video evidence clearly prove the children under the age of 15 acted as bodyguards all served with in the presidential guard. >> the court heard testimony from 60 witnesses during the trial that began in january 2009 and lasted over two years. with wednesday's conviction, the trial became the first legal proceeding to be conducted from beginning to end at the international criminal court. he showed little emotion at the verdict. the court did not hand down a prison sentence on wednesday,
but the warlord from the congo could face life behind bars. >> the united nations security council must find common ground on a crisis in syria. that was the message from angela merkel today. she held talks with the prime minister, who echoed her call, saying the people of the whole arab world are demanding their rights. >> human rights group amnesty international has released a report saying prisoners in syrian jails are being systematically tortured. meanwhile in what now threatens to become an all-out civil war, violence is continuing in several parts of syria. >> fighting in the north syrian town on the turkish border has left a trail of carnage. when the troops on both sides and scores of innocent victims all around. syria if's army has gained control of the city after intense fighting with rebels, but amnesty international says president assad's forces used appalling brutality.
>> the use of torture in syrian prisons has increased dramatically over the past few months. we have seen this continual increase ourselves. since april 2011, we have compiled a list of 275 people whose torture in syrian government prisons was so grave that they later died from their injuries. >> should foreign troops intervene? tunisia's prime minister says foreign military action would be pure madness here for her part, angela merkel wants to coordinate with the arab league and the united nations security council to exert more pressure on syria. >> the arab league which is very much that the security council would make a similarly clear statement on the issue. that is what i've heard again and again in talks with the league secretary-general. that is also why we in germany are holding intensive talks with russia and china, so that the international community can finally speak clearly.
>> but while the world watches, syria's human tragedy deepens. according to the united nations, more than 8000 people have been killed since the insurgency began. >> the german defense minister says there are no plans to bring forward the withdrawal of germany's armed forces from afghanistan. >> the is due to leave afghanistan in 2013. the minister's visit was overshadowed by violence in the country where nine people were killed in two separate explosions. we can now go back to our top story, that bus crash last night in switzerland. we can now go live to lucas chambers. what is the latest you can tell us about the situation? >> the latest is that we now know the identity of 22 of the
24 kids injured in this terrible crash. the head of the medical staff here in switzerland said none of the children's lives were in danger except for possibly three of them who are currently in a coma and being treated in hospital about 16 kilometers outside of geneva. some kids have been able to talk to their parents. about 120 parents, relatives accompanied by psychologists are arrived a company by staff. they were immediately transferred to hospitals where they were reunited with their wounded children. as we speak right now and throughout the afternoon, some parents went through the unimaginably painful process of identifying the bodies of their dead children. as you know, 22 children died in this crash. as to the details as to why it happened, police do not really have leads at this point. all lights were green. the bus check that technically. there was not a problem. they will do technical analyses to find out whether there was anything there. the company had no track record of violations as for the rules
of the road and things like that. the drivers check out. they should have been well rested. they arrive monday and should have been leaving last night, but an autopsy will tell whether they had been drinking or whether there was fatigue involved here the tunnel where the accident occurred never had any president of this kind. it was not what, either, so there's no reason to think the total was to blame. as the kids recover and talk to their parents, they will obviously interview some of these children to find out what happened on the bus because they suspect a human factor here. >> thank you very much. germany's most populous state is headed for early elections, a prospect that could give a jolt to national politics in the capital. >> there are calling elections three years early after the government failed to get a budget through the state assembly. >> it has been run by a minority coalition between the social democrats and the greens. they are hoping a new poll could
give them a majority and boost their parties on the national level as well. >> the government fell after the opposition refused to support her social democrat green coalition opposing proposed budget. it came out of the blue, and the governing party so not -- saw no alternative but to call fresh elections. >> as is up to the people to decide. we will be going into this battle with a strong feeling of confidence. amnesty its clarity, and if we had a good result for the green party resulting in a stable green coalition, it will give us a boost in our plans to form a national government in 2013. >> it is germany's most populous federal state, and elections there have always been a good indicator of voter sentiment on the national level. chancellor merkel believes her conservatives should head the state's next government.
>> it is not a government that stops the region from fulfilling its potential by borrowing more money. >> her preferred coalition partner may not be available. >> we are joined now in the studio by political correspondent terry martin. quite a bombshell there. tell us a bit more about the background of what happened. >> it is quite simple. minority governments rely on the opposition support to get legislation passed. in this case, the central less -- left coalition was relying on different opposition factions to get the legislation through parliament. it was normally ok for the past couple of years because they only needed an abstention or two from opposition groups to make things work. in this case, however, we have had some very contentious budget legislation. opposition groups were
diametrically opposed on what should be done. government simply could not strike a compromise on what should be done. the bill went down by one vote in parliament, and we're looking at fresh elections in the next 60 days. >> angela merkel clearly taking an interest. this is definitely not just confined to this state. what could be the consequences on the national level? >> there are definitely national obligations, and there are a couple of reasons for that. it is germany's most populous state with the largest economy in the country. what happens matters on the federal level, just from the sheer size of the population. however, there's another point that is very important, and that is that the democrats which are right now in opposition in parliament -- looks like they are going to get booted out again, out of another state parliament, and this will reflect poorly on chancellor merkel kohl listen because they are the junior coalition partner to the conservatives. there will definitely be some
implications on the federal level. >> thanks very much for joining us here in the studio. >> staying with domestic politics and germany's bid to ban the far right npd party has gained a bit of momentum. >> the federal interior minister and several state interior ministers have agreed to stop using paid informers. an earlier attempt to outlaw the npd failed because the case relied on testimony from informants in top positions in the party. the constitutional court ruled that the party could not be banned because it's parties may have been influenced by those law enforcement agencies. time for a short break now, but there is a lot more to come. british prime minister david cameron has been holding talks with president obama in washington. >> i am a black and primaries -- in the republican primaries in the united states, rick santorum winning in the south.
>> welcome back. in the united states presidential race, there has been a further shake-up in the republican nomination contest. rick santorum won primaries in both alabama and mississippi. >> the overall front runner, mitt romney, came third in both of those contests. santorum camp and on social issues including abortion and birth control. just behind him in both states was newt gingrich. both of those men argued that they and not mitt romney are the true conservatives in the race, but mitt romney still holds the all important lead in delegates, which is the key to actually securing the nomination. and british prime minister david cameron has been holding talks with u.s. president barack obama at the white house. >> the agenda included strengthening bilateral trade ties and cooperation in dealing with the current challenges
posed by iran, syria, and afghanistan. after their meeting, obama said bonds between the nations had never been stronger. chairman also said both countries would work to keep pressure on iran to give up its suspected nuclear arms program and that all options were still on the table. >> for more on both those stories, max joins us from our washington bureau. first of all, david cameron -- we see him -- he is actually quite cozy with obama a lot of the time even though they are from opposing ends of the political spectrum in fact. >> yes, they get along great. apparently they are good friends and every time they get together, there is much talk about bier in sports and all that, but there were other important topics as well. first and foremost, afghanistan. the top of the town was do the americans want to pull out of afghanistan earlier than planned? the plan being to withdraw all troops by the end of 2014 just like the germans, but barack
obama and cameron both said that they wanted to stick to the plan, that they did not want any sudden changes. barack obama said that it would be a topic that the nato summit in may, so it is not completely over yet, this discussion. >> let's go back to those republican primaries, very exciting race it has been so far. another good day for rick santorum, but can you really catch up with mitt romney on this delicate california, which matters so much? >> it depends. if newt gingrich, the other conservative competitor in the race, drops out, the centaur would have a clear shot at mitt romney, the assumption being that most gingrich supporters would join forces with santorum supporters, but even then, it would be difficult for him to catch up. looking at delegates, romney has about 500. santorum has about to under 50. it is hard to catch up because delegates are allocated
proportionally. even if you go for second or third place, he still gets a lot of delegates. the gap is going to be very hard to close for rick santorum either way. >> that is very much for joining us. back here in europe, the eurozone has formally approved the first wave of loans for greece under the bailout package. >> luxembourg's prime minister called the 130 billion euro rescue a unique opportunity for agrees that should not be missed. meanwhile in berlin, chancellor angela merkel's cabinet has approved a draft law allowing germany to join the eurozone's new permit a bailout fund. germany is set to become the biggest contributor to the european stability facility. it is due to come into effect mid-year. and europe's biggest utility company posted its first-ever net loss on wednesday. the company lost 2.2 billion euros in 2011, largely because of germany's nuclear shutdown.
despite that loss, it was the leading gainer among dax-listed firms in frankfurt as it share rocketed higher by 7%. overall wednesday, strong showing for equities. let's take a closer look at the markets kicking off in frankfurt were the market finished up by nearly 1.2% above the 7000-point level. well above it, in fact. across the lake on wall street, the dow jones trading slightly lower on this hour after trading site -- trading higher earlier in the session. the euro trading at a value of $1.3019. >> the latest inflation figures are out for the eurozone, and they are still well above the ecb target level. >> 2.7% was the number for february. the european central bank is tasked with keeping levels below 2%. the main driver was -- no surprise -- rising energy costs with car fuel leading the way.
prices at the gas pump in germany have risen 7% since the beginning of the year. germany is facing a demographic time bomb. people are just not having enough children here. and there may be many reasons, but one is simply the difficulty of combining a career with being a parent. >> angela merkel's government has presented its annual families report with new proposals on how to make life easier for working parents. >> as our next report shows, creating policy incentives does not necessarily mean parents will get the help they are promised or what they really want. >> the report says parents prefer to look after their children themselves rather than place them in day care. in response, the government wants more flexible working conditions. parents can already take three years of work to care for a child without the danger of losing their job, but the family minister says that is not enough.
m in the future, people who are entitled to parental leave should, with permission from their employer, be able to defer up to 24 months of the lead until the child turns 14. >> the child care regulations do not always help parents. from august 2013, parents of 1 to 3-year-old will have a legal right to day care for their kids. but the minister believes there will not be enough resources to fulfil that promise. and let the state governments make a big secret out of how they are progressing with expanding day care capacity, they cannot expect the federal government to be able to offer them targeted assistance. >> parents may end up having to sue for a place at kindergarten, by the time their case comes to court, their child could already be at school. for the government, delivering on promises of greater job flexibility could prove equally difficult. >> as we heard earlier today
marked a successful ruling in the international criminal court in handing down its first conviction ever. a congolese warlord was found guilty of using child soldiers and will face a sentence that is yet to be announced. >> nearly 10 years ago when the court came into force, the goal was to have a neutral body where some of the world's worst criminals could be tried. >> nearly a decade later, the icc keeps adding to its caseload. >> these men stand accused of having committed crimes against humanity like rape, expulsion, and murder. most of them remain at large, but it the international criminal court gets its way, they will be brought to justice. >> people who commit these crimes are called planners. they plan the crimes. they understand. in colombia, they are discussing that. in nepal, the review more than
two dozen cases. >> statements from victims like a boy adopted on the way to school and forced to become a child soldier. >> to be given a stick to beat your friend until he dies -- that is a lasting, lasting trauma. >> gloria is a lead investigator. the accounts she hears are horrifying, but she refuses to give up. she and her son's only narrowly escaped sierra leone's brutal civil war. >> just the thought of them being abducted just makes me get -- i will not to say what to avenge, but really motivates me to do more to do justice for
these children and to try -- and impunity. it has been going on for too long. >> one of the biggest successes was apprehending the former president of the ivory coast. he could go on trial within months, but the icc is limited in its reach. china, russia, and united states have not signed up. the court arrest warrants only apply in the 120 countries that are members. that is why the sudanese president can still travel abroad without fear of detention. >> investing would be justice. how many people will die and how many girls will be raped in the meantime -- that is the problem. >> prosecutors hope the verdict sends a message to war criminals and dictators and goes some way
to providing justice for the victims. >> finally, some soccer news. it seems 7 is the lucky number for me and right now. the bavaria's had a 1-0 deficit in the first leg of their championship clash, but on tuesday night, they routed the hapless suisse 7-0. they still have their 7-1 victory from over the weekend. the team is clearly back on foot. >> celebrated book that the games beginning and at its end. he scored the first and last goals. >> the last two games have really proven our potential and shown how well we can play. >> the match seemed sealed up before halftime. moments later, goals two and three were locked in, but in the first 15 minutes of the second half, gomez erupted for three goals in a row. they're back in top form, but they know what lies ahead.
>> they are playing amazing soccer week after week. it is a little unrealistic to think that a team can win the champions league with minimal effort. >> the coach's team now heads to the quarter finals. it was the most lopsided champions league win in their history. >> that is all we have time for now. more news at the top of the hour. >> stay with dw.
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